16 best spots for swimming and boating in London

Rent a boat at one of London's lakes or cool off with a swim in one of London's outdoor pools or lidos.
People swimming in an outdoor swimming pool on Hampstead Heath
Hampstead Heath Lido.

London has many options for swimming or being on the water. Relax outdoors in London on a lake in a rowing boat or pedalo, or take a refreshing dip in one of the city's outdoor swimming pools or London lidos, some of which are heated for cooler days.

Boating in London

1. The Serpentine in Hyde Park

Navigate around on a pedalo or paddle a rowing boat on the Serpentine in Hyde Park. This vast body of water covers a large part of the park and is the focal point for many activities. Year-round; shorter hours in winter

2. Regent's Park

Hire a boat in London’s glorious Regent's Park, which boasts a boating lake that’s home to many species of water birds, including herons nesting on the islands. Regent's Park also has a separate Children's Boating Pond for little ones to enjoy. April to October; Children's Boating Pond from late July to October 

3. Alexandra Palace boating lake

Colourful boats on the water at Alexandra Palace boating lake on a sunny day in London.
Colourful boats at Alexandra Palace boating lake. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.
Grab a rowing boat or a pedalo to explore the lake at Alexandra Palace. Refuel on coffee or grab a bite to eat at the Lakeside Cafe next to the lake after your leisurely ride or try The Terrace, Ally Pally's large beer garden with a view. March to October

4. Battersea Park

Take out a rowing boat or a pedalo and spend a leisurely few hours on the boating lake at Battersea Park. Keep an eye out for herons, grebes and cormorants along the way. School holidays, public holidays and weekends between Easter and late September

5. Skuna Boats

Four people sit in a hot tub boat from Skuna Boats in London.
Sit in a hot tub while boating around the London Docklands. Image courtesy of Skuna Boats.

Cruise along London's Docklands in style with Skuna Boats. This company has a fleet of hot tub and barbecue boats, a fun way to experience the Docklands' waterways with a drink in hand. Year-round

6. GoBoat London

Charter your own electric picnic boat with GoBoat London. Motor along Regent's Canal between Paddington Basin and Camden Lock, through the Docklands near Canary Wharf and even on the Thames from Kingston. Hampton Court Palace makes for an impressive sight along the way. April to November; Paddington location also open weekends in March

London's outdoor swimming pools and lidos

7. Parliament Hill Lido

Head to Hampstead Heath and visit the historic Grade II-listed Parliament Hill Lido. Get into the water at this 60-metre (200ft) open-air pool. The pool is not heated, but facilities include a sauna and warm showers. Year-round

8. Brockwell Lido

Marvel at the art-deco features of Brockwell Lido, including its clock and Grade II-listed pavilion buildings. This south London outdoor pool opened in 1937 and boasts a sunbathing area, cafe, sauna and gym in a quiet corner of Brockwell Park. Year-round

9. Tooting Bec Lido

Colourful doors looking out on the still water of the pool at Tooting Bec Lido in London.
Calm waters at Tooting Bec Lido in south London. Image courtesy of Tooting Bec Lido.

Make a splash at Tooting Bec Lido, the oldest purpose-built open-air pool in London. At 90m (295ft) in length, this pool in Tooting is among the largest of its kind in Europe. Bring kids to the children's paddling zone or relax in the cafe. April to September

10. Charlton Lido

Head to south-east London for the 50-metre-long (164ft) Charlton Lido. Part of a large complex that also includes a gym and fitness studio, this Olympic-sized outdoor pool is heated to 25C (77F), making winter swims a treat. Year-round

11. London Fields Lido

Enjoy a toasty swim at London Fields Lido, an outdoor pool maintained at a comfortable 25C (77F). This 50m (164ft) heated outdoor lido in London opened in 1932. Sunbathe on the terrace and grab a snack at the cafe after a swim. Year-round

12. Oasis Sports Centre

Take on a few lengths in the 27.5-metre-long (90ft) pool at Oasis Sports Centrethe only public heated outdoor swimming pool in central London. Surrounded by a sunbathing deck and patio, this tranquil haven hidden in Covent Garden also has a sauna and smaller indoor pool. Year-round

13. Hampton Pool

Relax at Hampton Pool, set in woodlands on the outskirts of Bushy Park. This 36-metre-long (118ft) tiled pool is warmed to 28C (82F), and its 12.5m-long (41ft) shallow pool is one of the best swimming pools in London for learner swimmers. Soak up the sun on a grassy area next to the pool between swims. Year-round

Wild swimming in London

14. Hampstead Heath Bathing Ponds

People standing on a dock at Hampstead Mixed Pond on a sunny day in London.
Dive into cold water at the Hampstead Mixed Pond. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Go for a swim in the three wildly beautiful bathing ponds at Hampstead Heath. Picturesque greenery surrounds the Kenwood Ladies' Pond, the Highgate Men's Pond and the Hampstead Mixed Pond, and ducks often float in the water with swimmers. These natural ponds are deep and remain quite cold all year. Year-round; Mixed Pond late March to October

15. West Reservoir

Jump into the waters of the West Reservoir in Hackney. Swim around the tucked-away 9.3-hectare (23-acre) lake and bring a wetsuit for a chilly winter dip. Year-round

16. Beckenham Place Park

Three people swimming in the water at Beckenham Place Park in London on a sunny day.
Open-water swimming at Beckenham Place Park. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.
Hop in the water at London's first purpose-built swimming lake at Beckenham Place Park. Book a one-hour slot to swim or learn how to handle cold winter waters during an induction session. Year-round

While you're out and about, visit one of London's best parks, sunny beer gardens or picnic spots.